Corruption investigations move forward; Humala, Heredia and Villarán in the firing line

12 May 2019

After many months of work on cases related to the Odebrecht scandal, the first conviction is expected at the beginning of June. The trial against former regional governor of Áncash, César Alvarez, and ten other men accused of irregularities, is expected to come to a conclusion soon.

Alvarez stands accused of harvesting more than US$2.6 million in extra payments from Odebrecht during the construction of the road between Cachas and San Luis in 2011. The prosecution is confident that the evidence against the accused is solid; it combines information provided by Jorge Barata and Raymundo Trinidade Sierra, as well as other anonymous plea bargain witnesses. If found guilty, Alvarez is facing a prison sentence of eight years and three months.

A formal accusation against ex-president Ollanta Humala and his wife Nadine Heredia has now been filed and more information on the charges and the evidence against them has become available.

Prosecutor Germán Juárez Atoche has presented more than 300 elements for conviction before Judge Richard Concepción Carhuancho. These aim to prove that the money for Humala’s 2006 and 2011 presidential campaigns was received illegally. They include testimony from plea bargain witnesses, tax information, telephone call transcriptions, and Heredia’s own appointment books.

As the trial began, the judge allowed ten days for the defence to marshal its case. The accusation centres on the fact that in 2006 Heredia’s mother Antonia Alarcón and her friend Rocío Calderón received US$80 million illegally from Venezuela. The money is thought to have entered Peru in cash through diplomatic channels, and been passed on to Alarcón and Calderón, and later transferred into Heredia’s account.

It is alleged that Humala and Heredia did not use all the funds for the 2006 campaign but kept some for their own benefit.

Marcelo Odebrecht and Barata have stated that in 2011 they gave Humala and Heredia US$3 million at the request of then Brazilian President Lula.

On both occasions, it is alleged that a series of false claims were made at the National Electoral Office in an attempt to cover for the illegal origin of the funds. The case continues.

Finally, the case against former Lima mayor Susana Villarán has also now reached the point where the prosecutor, Carlos Puma Quispe, has asked for 36 months of preventative prison for her and five members of her mayoral team. She is accused of receiving funds from Odebrecht for the 2013 campaign against her recall and her failed 2014 re-election campaign.

Barata claims to have given Villarán‘s right hand man, Jose Miguel Castro Guitiérrez, US$3 million in 2013. José Aldemário Pinheiro from OAS (another Brazilian construction company), who is now collaborating with the Peruvian justice system, claims to have given him a further US$3 million. Villarán appears to have rung both personally to thank them for the contributions. In an interview on 11 May, she admitted receiving money from OAS and Odebrecht to fund the ‘no’ campaign but maintained it was done for the good of Lima. 

In 2014, OAS appears to have contributed a further US$4 million to her re-election campaign through fake contracts and having brought the cash in illegally from Brazil. Those providing plea bargain evidence say that the campaign was organised personally by Villarán.

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